IDEA Club hosts bake sale for big change
Local club raises funds to help women and children in Afghanistan
By Riley Nerbas, Staff Writer
Do you like doing good deeds while eating baked sweets? Then look no further than the Initiative for Development of Education in Afghanistan, or IDEA Club, at Mount Royal University. The club, founded in the halls and classrooms of MRU, carries out seasonal bake sales for the students on specific holidays during the school year.
The club was founded by Shahdukht Hussaini in co-operation with students from the University of Calgary. IDEA organizes fundraisers to promote the goals and identity of the club.
“I wanted to help people from where I came from,” Hussaini says. “I would watch what was going on in my country on the news and feel helpless.”
She says things changed when she attended a public lecture by Janice Eisenhauer.
“She is really great. She has inspired me to do something about the way I was feeling and about the people I wanted to help.”
The funds raised through their fundraisers are donated to NGO Canadian Women for Women in Afghanistan. The NGO trains teachers in Canada and sends them to Afghanistan to help teach women and children. The organization has sent 25 teachers to cities and towns of the central Asian country. Canadian Women for Women in Afghanistan helps by paying salaries of teachers, rent for school buildings, wells, school bags and mini libraries, according to their website. IDEA raised over $1,000 last year through their fundraising by bake sales and a banquet celebrating the Persian New Year, Nowruz.
For these cousins who grew up in Afghanistan, a country that has seen its fair share of war and conflict, giving back has become a big part of their lives.
Hussaini remembers when she first attended school with her sister and brothers. She and her sister were the only girls who were attending school. At their father’s urging and approval, the rest of the community soon followed. The children walked an hour to school and an hour back for three hours of education.
“We were set up in a tent with no desks and a small blackboard the teacher used for notes,” says Hussaini.
Hussaini relocated to Pakistan at the age of 10 and again to Canada in the seventh grade, where she struggled to learn English, teaching herself with frequent visits to the library. She has since graduated with a Bachelor of Science, minoring in Chemistry and Biology and hopes to continue with her education to become a doctor.
Current president Bahara Niazi, a first year Business major and cousin of founder Hussaini, has big plans for the club in coming years.
“We would like to expand to other campuses,” she says. “Eventually we would like to spread our donations to other central Asian countries, or any country where we could help the women and children get a better education.”
They plan to keep their headquarters at MRU for the time being, but don’t rule out expanding to other campuses with fundraisers and clubs.
An upcoming fundraiser with the club from U of C will take place later this year. Students from Mount Royal can also check out the clubs page on Facebook.